Thierry Neuville’s hopes of pushing up the leaderboard on Rally Italy are over after rolling his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 onto its roof on Tempio Pausania.
A strong morning for Neuville meant he was rapidly zoning in on Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta for seventh overall. He was in full attack mode on Saturday morning, even risking carrying one spare rather than two carried by most crews to save weight.
But that charge came undone barely more than a mile into the third stage of the day, as he clipped the edge of the road and sent his car onto its roof.
Not one to give up, Neuville clambered out of his stricken Hyundai, pushed it back onto its wheels and got going again, briefly pulling over to let Adrien Fourmaux past.
There was heavy damage to the i20, however, and a few miles further into the test Neuville pulled over to retire for the day.
Craig Breen laid down a marker in the battle for second overall, winning the second pass of Tempio Pausania and putting 9.1s on Hyundai’s Dani Sordo.
A concerned Sordo conferred heavily with codriver Candido Carrera crossing the finish line and leapt out at stop control to inspect the front of his car for damage.
Tempio Pausania was the same stage on which Esapekka Lappi crashed out of the lead early on Saturday morning, having hit a hard compression in the road that unsettled his car and sent it into a bank.
Sordo now needs to worry about the Ford Puma behind him rather than the one ahead, as Pierre-Louis Loubet found 5.4s on the two-time Rally Italy winner to cut the gap to third to 6.5s.
While the second Hyundai is in the thick of an arduous battle for the podium places, the top i20 driven by Ott Tänak appears in control.
Tänak was second-fastest, only two seconds off Breen’s top time, ensuring his lead was trimmed to a still-healthy 29.8s.
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +9m52.7s
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +2.0s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +3.7s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +4.4s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +9.1s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +9.9s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +10.0s
- Jari Huttunen/ Mikko Lukka (M-Sport Ford) +13.1s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +13.7s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +15.8s
Leading positions after SS12
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 1h42m09.9s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +29.8s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +40.4s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +46.9s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +1m05.4s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1m47.9s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +2m03.1s
- Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda) +3m39.1s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +3m44.7s
- Nikolay Gryazin/ Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda) +4m04.3s